What should I do if my auto insurance will not pay for a claim?

If your car insurance company is not paying your claim, you have options. The first step is to find out why the claim was denied. It could be due to inadequate or incorrect paperwork, or your insurer could suspect fraud. If you address the issue, the denial may be reversed.

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Rachel Bodine graduated from college with a BA in English. She has since worked as a Feature Writer in the insurance industry and gained a deep knowledge of state and countrywide insurance laws and rates. Her research and writing focus on helping readers understand their insurance coverage and how to find savings. Her expert advice on insurance has been featured on sites like PhotoEnforced, All...

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Written by Rachel Bodine
Feature Writer Rachel Bodine

Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years (BBB A+). He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like Reviews.com and Safeco. He reviews content, ensuring that ex...

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent Daniel Walker

UPDATED: May 11, 2022

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Things to Remember

  • Ask an agent from your insurance company to explain why your claim got denied
  • Be sure you understand the intricacies of your car insurance policy to know whether an insurer is likely to accept your claim
  • If all else fails, you can go to your state’s commissioner or director of insurance for help

If you’ve been in a car accident, it can be helpful to know that your insurance policy will help cover the cost of repairs to your vehicle. But what happens when your car insurance company won’t pay your claim? 

Unfortunately, there are many instances in which car insurance companies refuse to pay for car insurance claims. An insurance company can refuse to pay claims for many reasons, and it is up to the policyholder to understand their car insurance policy and be persistent.

Why are auto insurance claims denied?

Car insurance companies deny policyholders’ claims for many different reasons. The most common reason a claim gets denied is because of limits in coverage.

If you file a claim for damage to your car from vandalism but do not carry a comprehensive car insurance policy, your claim will get denied because you do not have the proper coverage. The same is true if you file a claim for damage to your car because of an accident but only carry a liability policy.

If your car insurance policy does not cover the damage or repairs, your insurance company will immediately deny your claim. Therefore, you should familiarize yourself with your policy to avoid filing claims that get denied.

Car insurance claims also get denied because of fraud. If you lie on your application or in any information you provide to your insurance company, the company has the right to refuse your claim.

For example, if you falsify your address with your car insurance company to get cheaper rates, you may not think twice about it. But if you file a claim after a car accident, your claim could be denied because of the false information you provided to your insurance company.

Other reasons for claim denials often center around the logistics of a car accident. For example, your car insurance company could also deny your claim if you failed to report an accident right away or if you failed to report personal injuries.

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What if my auto insurance company denied my claim?

One of the first things you can do if your insurance company denies your claim is to reach out for more information. Though many insurance companies now offer apps that allow you to file claims and receive pertinent information, it is best to call your car insurance company directly if you have questions about a claim.

When you call your insurance company, you should be able to speak to an agent or representative who can explain to you why your claim got denied. Be sure to write down anything you do not understand, and ask clarifying questions as often as necessary.

It is important to know the specifics of your insurance policy to understand is does and isn’t covered. While your insurance company may have unjustly denied your claim, it’s also possible that your auto insurance claim got denied for a legitimate reason.

Was my claim denied because I have a liability-only policy?

If you purchased a liability-only insurance policy, there’s a good chance a claim for anything other than an at-fault accident will get denied because liability coverage only helps the people and vehicles you harm in an accident. So if you try to file a claim to have repairs done to your vehicle, it will be denied.

The table below shows some of the most common car insurance coverage options and what they cover.

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Car Insurance Coverage Options
Coverage ConsiderationsDescription
LiabilityMost states require a set amount of liability coverage that protects other drivers in the case of an accident
ComprehensiveThis coverage is typically required by your lender or leaseholder. If you own your vehicle outright, this is optional. It will pay for damage from non-accident-related events such as hail, vandalism, and theft.
CollisionThis provides financial protection for your vehicle. It will pay for damages after a crash.
Personal Injury Protection (PIP)This coverage will pay for your own medical costs, including lost wages.
Medical Payments (MedPay)Similar to PIP, MedPay covers injury costs but doesn't cover lost wages as PIP does.
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist ProtectionInsurance companies are required to offer this coverage to you, and it will pay for your own damages beyond what another's liability covers when they're responsible for an accident.
Guaranteed Auto Protection (GAP)You may owe more on your vehicle than it's worth because of how quickly cars depreciate. This coverage will pay the difference between the value and what you owe if your vehicle is totaled.
Personal Umbrella Policy (PUP)This option provides an "umbrella" of coverage over several types of insurance.
Rental ReimbursementIf your car is a total loss or needs repair, do you have another vehicle you can drive? If you need a rental, you should consider this option.
Emergency Roadside AssistanceYou can purchase this option from your insurer or a driving club.
Pay-As-You-Drive or Usage-Based InsuranceThis isn't a good choice for everyone, but if you drive very few miles, it might be cheaper for you to purchase this kind of coverage.
Non-Owner Car InsuranceThis option is for people who do not own a car but borrow one occasionally.
Modified Car Insurance CoverageIf you've made modifications to your vehicle, your regular full coverage won't take those changes into consideration when paying for damages. Adding special coverage for those modifications will protect them.
Windshield CoverageWindshield coverage will help you pay for the replacement of your broken glass (check state laws for specifics)
Mechanical Breakdown InsuranceThis coverage is similar to a manufacturer's extended warranty, and you should weigh the benefits of both a warranty and breakdown insurance to see which is best for you.
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If you don’t have a full coverage policy, you may be surprised at how little your car insurance helps you in the event of an accident. To ensure your future claims are accepted, you should carry robust coverage on your vehicle.

Is there anything I can do so my claim gets accepted?

If your claim was denied, but you believe your insurance company should have accepted it, there are a few things you can do to try and get the help you need.

Firstly, you may want your insurer to explain why your claim got denied in writing. Though you may have already heard why your claim was denied, getting an explanation in writing could help you build a compelling case if the denial of your claim was unjust.

Communicate with your insurance company about the logistics of the event in question. If you have pictures, videos, or other documents to prove your claim should be covered, send them to your car insurance agent. You can also send eyewitness statements or a police report if you have any.

If your insurance company continues to deny your claim after you have provided sufficient proof that it should be covered, you may want to go to your state’s director or commissioner of insurance.

An insurance commissioner or director will ensure that each insurance company follows state and federal laws concerning insurance coverage. The commissioner’s office will review the evidence you provide and decide whether your claim should be accepted. 

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Should I get an attorney once my claim gets denied?

If you have exhausted all your options and your insurance company still refuses to accept your claim, you may consider contacting an attorney.

An attorney specializing in car insurance could be good if you feel like you have nowhere else to turn. In many cases, the cost of procuring an attorney is high. However, if you were in a serious accident that totaled your car or experienced a significant personal injury, an attorney’s help may be worth it.

If you choose to hire an attorney, understand how much they expect to get paid, and stay up-to-date with all issues regarding your insurance claim. Your attorney can keep you updated via email if there are new developments in your case.

Car Insurance Claims: The Bottom Line

Your car insurance company can deny your claim if you don’t carry the proper coverage or if you falsified information. If you believe your insurance company should have accepted your claim, you can take a few steps to get your insurance company to reconsider.

The best way to avoid a denied claim is to purchase proper insurance coverage. If you do not have a full coverage policy, you can use an online quote to find and compare rates from multiple companies to see how expensive monthly rates for full coverage would be.

Enter your zip code now and use our fast, free online tool to get free auto insurance quotes that can save you money!

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